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7.19.2005

Linguistics
When I was in college trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life professionally, I tried to navigate a course that would touch on my major interests: architecture, politics, religion, writing, and, strangely, linguistics. I'm not sure how I ended up being so interested in linguistics, especially since I never even took a course on it. Undoubtedly it's related to being a writer. I love knowing how words in different languages are related, how concepts travel from one ethnic group to another and the trail of clues is left in bits of letters that are still used to communicate hundreds of years later.
The connection to urban design is tenuous. The only reflection I see is that in both, fragments of functioning objects (letters in words, shapes in buildings) surround us so pervasively that we become entirely desensitized to their existence, yet each holds answers about where we came from and what has been deemed important in our history.
When I chose urban design as a career, I steered myself towards architecture and politics, keeping writing and linguistics as hobbies and religion as an extracurricular. But today an article in The New York Times links linguistics, religion, and politics, forming a personal trifecta. The piece discusses the cataloging of languages done by Christian missionaries, how their standard for a language is if it requires a separate translation of the Bible, and the political ramifications of having your dialect grouped with other languages. Interesting stuff.
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